Colonsay is a small Hebridean island (8 miles by 3) with only 5 ferries per week (3 in winter) and a population of just some 120 souls.

It is therefore not surprising that, despite its rich musical heritage, it has always been very difficult to attract well known musicians to the island.

That is, until two years ago when 2 islanders decided to try to do something about it. They successfully applied for some seedcorn funding for a music festival, and so ‘Ceòl Cholasa’ was born in September 2008.

And what a success it has been. Both festivals to date  have been sell-outs and the list of artists who have appeared reads like a veritable ‘who’s who’ of folk music – aly bain, Phil Cunningham, Karen Matheson, Donald Shaw, Karine Powart, Kris Drever, John McCusker, Roddy Woomble, Kathleen MacInnes, Iain MacDonald, Iain MacFarlane and Ross Martin, to name only a few. Not bad for a fledgling festival!

Last year, festival goers travelled from as far afield as Germany, USA, Canada and Australia. And it gets better. Within a month of last September’s festival finishing, the 2010 event was a complete sell-out – and tickets hadn’t even been printed nor a line-up announced! Tickets for the 2011 event (which will be held  thu 15th to sun 19th Sept) are already selling fast.

Asked why Ceòl Cholasa is such a success, one of the organisers said “we have been able to attract internationally acclaimed musicians and yet the atmosphere is wonderfully intimate. The local hotel also acts as the ‘festival club’, with live sessions over the 4 days until 3 or 4 in the morning. It’s just a great wee festival.”

For details of Ceòl Cholasa, visit

Click here to visit the Colonsay Brewery website.